Finding Lincoln is designed to allow everyone to find their own Lincoln and express who he is, what he means, and to consider what would have occurred if he had not been assassinated. How would our country be different? Would civil rights have come sooner for people of color? Who would Abe Lincoln be today? If he were a senator from Illinois elected in 2012 would he be a republican or a democrat? Would he support voting rights and affirmative action or be more concerned with reducing the debt and creating a smaller federal government? Would he compromise or be unbending in his beliefs?
Merrill has designed Lincoln Portraits by making a digitally altered print of a Lincoln from a photo taken by Alexander Garner in the 1860’s. Lincoln’s figure has been made transparent, leaving space for folks to draw and write their feelings about Abe. Each individual visiting the art center can fill in their own visual or written ideas of who Lincoln is, what he stands for today, and why is he still meaningful to us. The Lincoln Portraits created by Spiva audience members will be pinned up in the regional gallery, dubbed The Lincoln Room during the ArtWorkers exhibition.
Artist Hugh Merrill and Spiva worked together to send out the print to Joplin-area civic leaders and elected officials. They were asked to use a Sharpie and write about Lincoln’s importance to them. The following leaders and officials responded:
Dr. Al Cade
Senator Ron Richard
R. Mark Rohr
Dr. Steven Wagner